Google, a technology company has announced plans to invest $1 billion in Africa over the next five years to ensure access to fast and cheaper internet and will back startups to support the continent’s digital transformation.
Google, which is a unit of U.S. tech company Alphabet Inc, made the announcement on Wednesday at a virtual event where it launched an Africa Investment Fund, through which it will invest $50 million in startups, providing them with access to its employees, network and technologies.
Speaking concerning the investment plans, Nitin Gajria, managing director for Google in Africa said in a virtual interview that the company would target startups focusing on fintech, e-commerce and local language content.
Gajria stressed that the tech company is currently looking at areas that may have some strategic overlap with Google and where Google could potentially add value in partnering with some of these startups.
Gajria further revealed that an undersea cable being built by Google to link Africa and Europe should come into service in the second half of next year and is expected to increase internet speeds by five times and lower data costs by up to 21% in countries like South Africa and Nigeria.
However, in collaboration with not-for-profit organisation Kiva, Google said it will also provide $10 million in low interest loans to help small businesses and entrepreneurs in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa get through the economic hardship created by COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet,
‘We are excited to reaffirm our commitment to the continent through an investment of $1 billion over five years to support Africa’s digital transformation to cover a range of initiatives from improved connectivity to investment in startups.
Meanwhile, Google further said its programme pioneered last year in Kenya in partnership with Safaricom that allows customers to pay for 4G-enabled phones in instalments would be expanded across the continent with mobile operators such as MTN, Orange and Vodacom.